Hot Gas Robbing You – Not So Fast

Hot gas robbing you – not so fast


Opinion Editorial
The Tampa Tribune
June 22, 2007

Claims that gasoline needs to be sold temperature-compensated (sell by weight and not by volume) in warm states such as Florida are not worthy to be pursued. Gasoline transferred to gas stations at the industry standard of 60 degrees will give you 2 percent less gas if pumped into your tank in 90-degree weather. This robs you of about 4/10ths of a gallon when you fill your 20-gallon gas tank on a hot summer afternoon, and as per some activists, it results in a couple of billion dollars overcharged per year in the USA.

Not so fast! Here are the quantitative arguments that are left out of most reports.

First, most gas station tanks are underground, and the variation of temperature below the ground is much smaller, maybe one to five degrees depending on the depth of the tank below the ground. Lowering the depth of the tank lowers the influence of the outside temperature because the earth around it insulates the tank. Why do you think water pipes do not freeze up north and cold water comes out of your tap in 95-degree weather in Tampa?

Second, even if temperature compensators were installed on gas pumps, oil prices fluctuate every day because of supply and demand, and any changes at the pump would simply get figured into the price of the gasoline.

Third, as per your argument, gas retailers are losing money when you pump gas during outside temperatures of below 60 degrees.

If you still are not convinced, go for the early bird special – buy your gas at dawn!

In my opinion, it is not going to make a difference. But then again, trade your SUV for a hybrid. You will still feel robbed, though less often.

CITATION: Autar Kaw, “Hot gas robbing you – not so fast”, Opinion Editorial, The Tampa Tribune, June 22, 2007, last accessed at